Digital Transformation

Building Trust Through Successful Social Media Marketing

— By Joshua Ferdinand

From the huge success of The Hunger Games movie to President Obama’s stunning presidential re-election at the end of 2012, social media has played a phenomenal role by helping to create trust in those products or services in which businesses, enterprises, or campaigns need social media users to invest. These two examples utilized social media marketing tools to generate massive interest in the brands.

Similarly, in President Obama’s successful campaign for re-election, social media was a constant but ever-changing force; resulting in Obama’s 2012 re-election becoming the most tweeted about event in the history of the social media phenomenon, Twitter. At the height of Twitter traffic, 327,000 tweets were sent per minute, and in total a historic 31 million tweets were sent. Twitter essentially transported the re-election personally into peoples’ lives allowing greater interaction, reaction, comment, and consequent involvement. Soon after Obama’s re-election, Fox News Latino used Twitter to gage Latinos’ responses to the re-election and their hopes for the future under President Obama. Interestingly, Romney only used social media campaigning in a 1:8 ration, compared to Obama.

Consequently, although The Hunger Games had a female action lead, recognized as notoriously difficult to market successfully, the distributors of the movie, Lionsgate, were able to spend a relatively small budget of $45 million and use a small marketing team of only 21 people, because they relied upon inexpensive digital initiatives to generate excitement for the film. Simply, Lionsgate spearheaded a digital hard sell that left very little to chance by consistently utilizing Facebook contests, a Twitter scavenger hunt and digital puzzle, a Tumblr blog, Iphone games, live Yahoo streaming and a viral campaign to create “citizens” of Panem. It is a tool that Lionsgate continues to successfully use in the approach to the release of other movies.

Social Media Connections
It is the ability of social media to enable strong connections that makes it such a powerful marketing tool for MWBEs. Whether fans are uniting to solve a Twitter puzzle of a movie poster, or women uniting to ensure that sexist political are not voted into office, or communications provider and MWBE champion, AT&T, using powerful social media campaigns to connect their devices’ top selling points with social media activities, there is a clear need to connect.

This is particularly the case since 65 percent of online adults now use social networking sites. In addition, women now dominate almost every social media network, with 67.5 million women logging onto social media sites weekly. It is also women who create 62 percent of daily Facebook activity and 68 percent of Pinterest activity. Combine this fact with research from a previous Multicultural Marketing Study by the center for Hispanic Marketing communications at Florida State University, which states that usage of social networking websites has exploded among all ethnic groups, and this is a trend that is expected to continue.

Consequently, the need to embrace social media marketing is essential to the continued success and growth of MWBE businesses in the USA at whatever stage of growth, from the biggest to the smallest. According to Reverend Jesse Jackson, “social media has become a vital tool for competitive companies.” Conferences and expos appear almost everywhere to explain to entrepreneurs how to integrate digital marketing and social networks into their marketing campaigns. They teach how companies can exploit the sites of LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to attract new business opportunities, build credibility and increase company profits. Alice Bredin, founder of Bredin Inc., comments that, “women are leading the charge when it comes to starting new businesses.” However, creating a strong social media marketing campaign, and the trust that it requires to be successful, may be easier said than done.

Creating Trust
In the current US market, many brands are trying to capture the elusive power of social media to market their products and, more importantly, create trust with potential brand advocates. Social media marketing all comes down to trust and how to build it so that one person will recommend a product or service to another, or ideally several hundred thousands of others, creating social media word of mouth on a mass scale. Social media marketing gives brands and companies the opportunity to interact both quickly and directly with customers and potential new customers to build brand value and trust.

Social Media to Create Trust with Customers
Brent Gleeson, writing about entrepreneurship, suggests that there are six ways to build up trust.

1. Businesses build trust using social media platforms to demonstrate expertise in an area and providing strong content that people will share with others.

2. Secondly, businesses should demonstrate transparency by having the company CEO use social media, because research shows people are more likely to buy from a company with a CEO who utilizes social media.

3. Third, businesses should use social media for quick and interactive customer communication.

4. Fourth, businesses must demonstrate accountability, by encouraging customers to engage directly with the business.

5. Fifth, it is essential that businesses entertain their customers through creating interesting daily content.

"Social media marketing gives brands and companies the opportunity to interact both quickly and directly with customers and potential new customers to build brand value and trust."
6. Finally, MWBEs should demonstrate social responsibility to their customer base so that customers recognize a business as one that cares.

Additionally, a recent survey carried out by Women’s Marketing Inc. and SheSpeaks published new findings on social media marketing and women. According to the survey, women, who are considered to control 85 percent of purchasing in the US, are most likely to purchase brands or services that they follow through social media. Women also use social media primarily to connect with family and friends, but also as a way to be alerted regarding coupons, brands, and deals. Finally, which is true of any group of people, different women access social media in diverse ways. Understanding the intended market is inevitably essential.

The task is a clear one: MWBEs’ can reach their target market through social media marketing. Even better, MWBEs can engage in communication with potential customers to develop trust in their brands, which then, evidence suggests, leads to sales and sustainable business revenue. With the current boom in both social networking and the multicultural business economy, social media marketing and subsequent tracking is an essential tool that MWBEs can capitalize upon to succeed.